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Cruising bargain

For some reason the cruise from Troon on 6th August to Holyhead on 22nd August has not sold so it goes on special at just £495. You don’t need any experience for this one and you can do RYA Competent Crew for an extra £25. We will have one or 2 ‘Qualifying passages’ for budding Yachtmasters but it is not a high mileage trip like the next leg back to lymington.

Destinations are likely to include Arran, Islay, Rathlin island, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man plus possibly Dublin.

Round Ireland race–Wild Spirit takes some Silverware!

Round Ireland Race 2014

Two of the team had helped with the delivery from Lymington to Wicklow but the rest flew in the day before the race. It probably isn’t a good move to be out drinking until the early hours just before the start of one of the world’s classic offshore races, but we were in Ireland and these things happen. Looking at the team the next morning they were more the Motley 7 than the Magnificent.

The forecast had been for a lack of wind but the start saw plenty, two yachts collided and we set off under white sails then hoisted the kite, or rather we tried to hoist it and after a very long time succeeded. The first 40 miles down to Tuskar Rock were magnificent and we flew our second largest spinnaker with occasional Jibes, some of which were intentional, the team settled down up and we started to compete, by the Rock we were 3rd overall according to the official tracking system.

Racing close alongside or friends and rivals from the 2012 race on Desert Star we continued down the southern coast past Cork and Kinsale towards the Fastnet rock. JC took time off the Helm to get some cracking photos of them and they have a video of us we are looking forward to seeing. Here we all ended up becalmed and after several hours Geoff a very experienced Dinghy racer managed to get us going again and I took over to claw away from the pack. The wind returned and in glorious weather we ran under spinnakers up the west close of Ireland. Some major races have good scenery but none quite as good as this coast. We were in a good position leading a group, but this has the disadvantage that there was no-one with a similar characteristics yacht to follow and in the absence of any information on the tides we made a tactical error which cost us several places.

Black Rock was about 20miles ahead and we were concerned that the forecast was for no wind. We could either go out, go in very close and hope for wind down of the mountains or hope to just get through and catch a NE going light tide. The third option didn’t appeal as there was a chance that the tide would take us the wrong side of the Rock, the first meant sailing an extra 10 miles or more with no guarantee of wind. I choose the second option and we ended up becalmed for 12 hours. At least we saw some whales to go with the many Dolphins.

The forecast was for a Force 7 from the SW and soon a Gale warning followed, by the time we reached Tory island we were running before 30 kts with a reefed main and Storm spinnaker. These were seriously big waves (others estimating 8 metres) and we were surfing along averaging well over 10 kts SOG (Speed over ground). Rigger Paul (Now also Navigator) demonstrated some sailing backwards as part of a large broach up a very big wave and I moved to helm for several hours. Harry in his first big offshore race seemed totally unfazed but then he is a Kiwi.

Rounding Tory Island we were still in a full Atlantic gale with sustained wind just under 40 kts. We regularly achieved 14.8 kts through the water and once hit 14.9 with 39 kts of breeze behind us, John and Damian continued their sterling efforts on mainsheet and in the Galley.
We broached a few times but recovered without much fuss and as soon as we had rounded the rocks off Inishtrahull we dipped south to enjoy smaller waves but still a big wind. Now we, and probably several other teams, went off the boil for a bit and continued with a reef in when we should have shaken it out. After 5 hours solid on the Helm I was tired and we agreed a role change for rounding Rathlin Island with rigger Paul taking my watch so I could have a recovery sleep.

Rathiln island has notoriously difficult tides but I had some knowledge of them and as soon as we had reached the right point I went to sleep and Paul and Geoff took us round in good time. I woke once when going through a tidal race and then 5 hours later at Mew Island where I found we had caught up with 4 other yachts. We sailed on south in light winds knowing that much stronger ones were to come. We had expected them from the south but they were SE which made progress easier but waves bigger. By the time we were just North of Dublin Bay the wind had gone due South and strengthened to Force 6/7, the tide was against and progress towards the finish slowed to less than 2 kts. We beat on into the night and with the turn of the tide progress increased but the wind remained hard on the nose and we picked a gap in the bank off the coast to cross to calmer waters inside. The wind was now in the 30s, so not quite a Gale but when you are sailing into it at 7 kts it seems like one and we had only a small gap to get through, we made it but passed within 5 metres of a large metal buoy with waves breaking over the bank around us.

Now in calmer waters but with a F7 we made good progress down to the finish arriving just after 0600 on the Friday morning. The standard Wicklow welcome followed, by standard I mean the standard of hospitality for which the Irish are known throughout the World. The rest is a Blur

12th overall including beating a Volvo 70, 5th in Class and winners of the team trophy as part of the Wild Spirit, British Army (Fujitsu) and Endgame team. Roll on 2016 and our chance to return for what I consider to be the best offshore race in the World.

E-mail problems

The e-mail problem has returned so please send e-mails to paulandjudith.jackson@btinternet.com instead of using the link above

Lots of sailing

I am away sailing now until about 8th July but Judith will sort out inquiries and bookings and I will get e-mails from time to time but not during week from 28th June as it is the Round Ireland race and you can follow us via http://www.roundirelandyachtrace.ie/

Still a few places left on the legs of the Hebrides cruises–we wont be back up there for a few years so this is your chance.

Wild Spirits first and elsewhere in 3 Peaks Yacht Race

Congratulations to Wild Spirit sailor Shelf and the whole team of Wight Rose on winning the 3 Peaks yacht race. in light winds creeping along under spinnaker they were eventually overhauled by the British Army team but overtook them on the run up Ben Nevis to win. Andy Palmer another Wild Spirit regular is still racing and looks set to pick up some silverware.

Hebrides changes

Weddings, visiting Australian Grandparents and travel arrangements have all influenced the changes in to our Hebrides cruising this summer. This has however allowed us to include two 5 day RYA courses out of Oban and Troon.

The dates are now, Leg 1 of cruise Friday 10th July join Holyhead
25th July arrive Oban (may be Dunstaffnage 3 miles north as it is on the Bus route to Glasgow/ airport). Holyhead to Oban–£875 or Holyhead to Troon arrive 30th July £995

RYA or just cruise join 25th July.
26th July depart Oban arriving Troon 30th July

RYA course Competent Crew/Day Skipper from evening Friday 25th July to afternoon Weds 30th for just £295 inclusive (but allow for 2 meals out). You can just come and sail on this trip and enjoy the superb scenery.
There are buses and train from Glasgow/ airport and Inverness airport to Oban and half hourly train service from Troon to Glasgow/airport.

Evening Friday 1st Aug to afternoon Weds 6th RYA course Competent Crew/Day Skipper from August for just £375 inclusive (but allow for 2 meals out)or you can just come and just sail on this trip and enjoy the superb scenery.

7th August depart Troon arriving Holyhead 21st August. £875,
There are good train services from Holyhead plus one way car hire.

22nd August depart Holyhead arriving Lymington by 31st August.
Great for budding Yachtmasters with 2 or 3 overnighters plus Qualifying passages.£425.

Oban to Troon and Troon to Troon and Holyhead to Lymington are all inclusive but allow for 2 dinners out. For the others breakfast and lunch are included but we run a kitty for Dinner.

June Update

I have one space on the Round the Island race for a lady at £395. Otherwise I can get you spaces on a competitive yacht based at the Hamble for £460 each including training on the Friday.

Currently 2 spaces for the Round Ireland Race and at least one space on each of the 3 fortnights of cruising round the Hebrides in July and August.

I have to give evidence at the Hillsborough Inquest on 13th June so the programme has changed and there is a gentle cruising weekend being run by Nick and Vanda, excellent for introducing a partner to cruising.

Sydney Hobart is full for this year, spaces available on Caribbean 600 and 2 provisional bookings already taken for Fastnet campaign 2015.

Boarded!

After the race to Cherbourg at Easter we didn’t race back due to a combination of foul weather and crew incapacity due to drinking some dodgy booze with even more dodgy company somewhere in Cherbourg. Half way back across the Channel the French coastguard Helicopter came and had a look at us and as we sailed up the Needles Channel we were boarded by two Border Agency officials. Everyone had their passports and after about 10 minutes of pleasantly conducted questioning and a head count they went away satisfied. I know it is popular to criticise officialdom but we all felt a bit re-assured by the whole thing.

The race to St Vaast was fast and furious, without a couple of key team members we decided to drop the kite when the combination of swell plus increasing wind made it difficult and this probably cost us several places but we still finished seventh.

After a great meal out and a good nights sleep we sailed the 78 miles back to Lymington in under 12 hours mainly under spinnaker.

Caribbean 600 2015

I will skippering Spirit of Juno a Round the World racing yacht–details on racing page.

Nab Tower race report

Starting the first race of the season with a new team is always interesting. We had a couple of novices with us but enough experience to risk starting with the Code Zero (officially a spinnaker but cut more like a giant Genoa). Most other competitors started on standard sails so we risked being forced up from leeward, but with the extra sail area we had slightly more speed and by Osborne Bay we were 2nd or 3rd in class on the water.

Making good speed, John navigated us between the Forts and on course towards Nab Tower,( built outside the eastern end of the Solent as an early warning lookout in case the French got frisky). About half way between the Forts and Nab we were vying for the lead and overtaking a slower class that had started 20 minutes before us. For no apparent reason a yacht in front of us suddenly tacked onto Port about 15 metres in front of us despite us being on a Starboard tack. To make it worse they virtually stopped and we assumed they had either hit a semi submerged object or snagged a fishing pot. I was on the helm and threw us through the wind narrowly avoiding a collision but going dead in the water as a consequence. They then sailed on and we recovered but lost valuable time. As we passed them again I selflessly offered counselling and they accepted the Protest and took the Penalty.

The tide was slightly stronger than we thought so we were about 70 meters to the east of the Tower when we tacked onto Port and we had to give water to a few other competitors coming in on Starboard. This gave slightly more time for getting the spinnaker ready and I changed down from the 0.75 Runner to the 0.9 AP which was initially slower, but paid off as the wind speed picked up towards 20 knots.

Fighting the tide we still made good progress back towards the Forts but after a couple of broaches we recovered the kite and were back on whites for a while before hoisting the Code Zero again and holding it all the way to Norris point by Cowes. Several other competitors had big broaches and more than half took down their spinnakers. After a rather exciting broach off Cowes we also recovered the code Zero and finished on whites.

4th out of 16 in class we were left wondering how much time the incident had cost us. I reckoned on 4 minutes and if it had not have happened we then would have been 2nd.

A thoroughly enjoyable race in great conditions, we overnighted in Cowes first enjoying the hospitality of the Island sailing Club and then receiving 2 sets of unexpected visitors on board, first Rigger Paul from last year’s team plus the Sydney to Hobart and then Phil the other Wild Spirit Instructor plus a former student.

Then it got even better as in the Restaurant, and quite by chance, we met Steve from last year’s Sydney Hobart team with 3 of this year’s team members with him.

Next race is Cherbourg at Easter.